Yasushi Nambara / Marubeni New Zealand Ltd.
Located in the northern part of North Island in New Zealand, Auckland is the largest city in the country, comprising about thirty percent of the total population of 4.3 million. A 328- meter Sky Tower soars skyward in the city center, and for true daredevils, there is a Sky Jump—a base-jump by wire off the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand—where you can drop some 200 meters. At first you might think: there are so many hills in the city center, aren’t they tough to climb (or am I getting old)? But as you get familiar with the city, you realize there are ways to use the escalators and elevators in the buildings so that you don’t have to climb the hills, and you can show that you are no country bumpkin.
In the suburbs of Auckland, there are numerous points with hills that were formed by a now extinct volcano. In particular, there are panoramic views of the city from Mount Eden, and 360-degree views of all of Auckland from the top of One Tree Hill, along with lush green, which has made this a place where people come for rest and recreation. When we think of New Zealand, sheep come to mind for most of us, but of some forty million head of sheep that are said to be in New Zealand, a staggering majority of them live on South Island, and not on North Island. Still the absolute number of sheep on North Island is large, and many sheep graze on One Tree Hill.
Another appealing point about Auckland is that after just a short trip, you can enjoy the beautiful and vast nature. There are several forests with large kauri trees indigenous to New Zealand just three or four hours north of Auckland by car, where you can feel refreshed at the same time you feel the profound history of the ancient forest. Further, if you go to South Island, you can find stunning scenery that seems to be in another world. With Lake Pukaki in the foreground facing Mount Cook in the distance, the scene is so striking you feel you are floating on air.
But the winter is basically very cold and rainy, not only in Auckland, so I certainly recommend that you visit in the summer (from December to February). The color of the ocean is also completely different in summer and winter. It is because of the harsh winters that we can enjoy such magnificent summers, which is another attractive feature of Auckland.
Other than the poor conditions in the winter, the environment for golf, which is a personal favorite of mine, is very good in Auckland. New Zealand has a total of about 400 courses (the highest per capita in the world), with about 30 to 35 courses in the suburbs of Auckland, and the prices are reasonable as well. The Titirangi Golf Club, where I am a member, has the only course in New Zealand designed by renowned golf course designer Alister MacKenzie. Surrounded by lush nature, the course is a favorite from a strategic perspective as well. I’d like to improve enough that when I return home to Japan people ask, “did you do golf training?” Well, I’d better get to it!
Marubeni Group magazine "M-SPIRIT" VOL.53 (September, 2009)